Wednesday, February 29, 2012
This morning we crossed the Nile for the last time to inspect the site and turn in our preliminary report on the season’s work. Our early morning and afternoon rides on the river have been a pleasure – the water taxi has met us right below the entrance to Chicago House this year. Four weeks ago, this was rather challenging as the Nile was quite low and the boat couldn’t pull in to the stairs. Carrying Joel’s scanner six feet or so across a gang plank less than a foot wide was an adventure. But, within a few days, the water rose about two feet, and we’ve been able to step onto the boat from the bottom step.
The corniche on the east bank has been redesigned several times in the past few years. The newest version has two levels – the lower one will have a row of shops, but they haven’t been finished yet. To the Egyptologists on the boat, the empty openings in this arcade make it resemble the Middle Kingdom porticoed tombs on the west bank.
Unfinished Arched Arcade in Front of the Hospital
Two other features on the new part of the corniche are waterfalls, but with the water is turned off and they look a bit like the wild animal habitats at the zoo. We expect a bear or a lion (or maybe a sea lion) to appear around one of the rocks any minute.
Water Feature on the New Corniche with the Water Turned Off
One fountain was turned on the other day for the opening of an African film festival that’s taking place in town and it was quite charming seen from the river, the moving water sparkling in the sun. Water features have a very long tradition in Egypt (a country surrounded by desert), going back to ancient times when every palace or estate is represented with a pool inside the grounds.
The corniche is a construction site at the moment and one morning last week we found that our way to the boat had been blocked by barbed wire across the top of the stairs to the lower corniche, and a pole blocked the bottom. Every stairway was blocked in this way, but a helpful man pushed the wire down and motioned for us to step across –
we preferred to climb over the railing and hand our equipment across. By the afternoon, the barbed wire was gone, but another afternoon there was a huge pile of sand at the top of the stairs. The construction workers were mixing concrete and wanted to have easy access to water. We look forward to seeing the completed corniche next year.
After driving around the site for the last time (and the site is very large – about 7 km long), and turing in our report, we said goodbye to some people we will particularly miss, our inspector Shaimma, our reis Hassan, and our driver Mohammed. They have all been a great help to us this season, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we have without them.
Joel has promised to write a blog on his work with the scanner, and Peter will be attending and speaking at the symposium this weekend. We’ll also be doing periodic updates – so keep checking the blog for further entries.
Diana Craig Patch (from New York)